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Parcel bombs explode at two Rome embassies

Anarchists suspected for blasts at Chilean, Swiss offices

23 December, 18:09
Parcel bombs explode at two Rome embassies (ANSA) - Rome, December 23 - Parcel bombs exploded at Chile's and Switzerland's embassies to Italy on Thursday, badly injuring an employee at both.

The pair are in hospital after suffering serious hand injuries after parcels blew up when opened, but the Chilean embassy worker was also hit in an eye and risks losing sight in it. Neither is in a life-threatening condition. No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks so far. Interior Minister Roberto Maroni said police think the blame may lie with anarchist terrorists who are also suspected of being behind parcel bombs sent to foreign governments and embassies in Athens last month. ''The lead we are following is that of anarchist subversives,'' Maroni said. ''The clues come from similar episodes in Greece in November.

''A number of elements lead us to believe this is the right track. ''These groups are very violent. They are present in Spain and Greece and are closely linked''. Maroni added that all the embassies in the capital had been put on high alert and were being checked. Later on Thursday Swiss police said a suspect package had been sent to the European Union embassy in Berne A suspicious package found at the Ukrainian embassy in the Italian capital subsequently resulted harmless though.

There were also two bomb scares at Rome city council offices Thursday, although they were false alarms.

Earlier Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini condemned the attack on the Swiss embassy.

''We express total solidarity with the Swiss embassy and all its personnel, who have been subject to a deplorable act of violence that deserves our firmest condemnation,'' said Frattini.

''Our sentiments of sincere solidarity towards our Swiss friends are accompanied by our wishes that the injured employee recovers fully as soon as possible''. The blasts come after what looked to be a makeshift bomb was found in an empty carriage of the Rome metro on Tuesday, although it later turned out the device could not ignite because it had no detonator and the material inside was not explosive.

Tension has been high in the Italian capital following a series of a protests by students against the government and its contested higher education reform bill, one of which degenerated into a riot last week.

However, Thursday's incidents do not appear related to these protests. ''This is a wave of terrorism against the embassies,'' said Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno. ''This situation is totally different from episodes regarding the Rome scene. The leads are international''.